As a car accident lawyer Delray Beach FL relies on can explain, you are much more likely to be killed in a car accident if you do not wear a seatbelt. Seatbelts protect you from being ejected from a vehicle and if you are ejected from a vehicle you are five times more likely to be killed in an accident. It is estimated that one-third of all traffic accident fatalities could have been prevented if seatbelts were used. Despite this, some states still do not require occupants of a motor vehicle to wear a seatbelt. The laws in states where seatbelt use is required varies from state to state. For example, Florida law requires that all front seat passengers wear a seatbelt, but it does not require rear seat passengers to do so. (Exception: the law requires all passengers under the age of 18 to wear a seatbelt or be restrained by in a child car seat.) Other states, including New Jersey, Indiana, Louisiana, Minnesota, Kansas and Texas require backseat passengers to be restrained.
Not only is it important for you to wear a seatbelt for safety reasons, but your failure to wear seatbelt can result in the issuance of a citation and a fine. Again, the law varies from state to state on the penalties for failing to wear a seatbelt. In most states, the failure to wear seatbelt is a primary offense, meaning that you can be pulled over and issued a citation based solely on your failure to wear a seatbelt. In the minority of states, the failure to wear a seatbelt is a secondary offense, meaning that you must be pulled over for some other violation before you can be issued a citation for failing to wear a seatbelt.
If you are injured in an accident and make a claim against someone else, your failure to wear a seatbelt can significantly affect your claim. Again, the law varies from state to state. Most states do not allow the use of the “seatbelt defense.” However, a number of states do allow it, including Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Iowa, Michigan, Missouri, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Oregon Texas, West Virginia and Wisconsin. In these states, the victim’s failure to wear a seatbelt can be considered by the jury and the victim’s damages can be reduced because of the individual’s failure to wear a seatbelt. The law in some states limits the amount the victim’s damages can be reduced, while in other states the amount of the reduction is not limited. For example, in Missouri, the failure to wear a seatbelt can only reduce a victim’s damages by one percent, whereas in Wisconsin the failure to wear a seatbelt can result in a fifteen percent reduction in damages. In Florida, there are no limits on the amount a victim’s damages can be reduced and if the jury believes that 100% of the victim’s damages could have been avoided if a seatbelt was used, the victim will not recover anything for their injuries.
Thanks to our friends and contributors from Luckman Law for their insight into proving fault after a car accident.